Archive for February, 2013

Bruins give Jay Pandolfo one-year deal

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

The Bruins and veteran forward Jay Pandolfo have agreed to a one-year deal, according to a source. The agreement was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, with Pandolfo receiving a prorated $600,000 deal.

Pandolfo, who has been with the Bruins on a tryout since training camp, must clear waivers before he can play with the team. The B’s placed him on waivers on Tuesday and he is scheduled to clear waivers Wednesday at noon.

A native of Burlington, the 38-year-old Pandolfo has played 881 games in the NHL with 100 goals and 126 assists for 226 points.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Claude Julien keeping his options open with top-six forwards

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Claude Julien isn't afraid to tinker with his top two lines. (AP)

Tyler Seguin was back on the ice in Tuesday’s morning skate, and with his return from a maintenance day came the return of the Bruins’ regular top-six forwards as the B’s prepare for the Rangers.

After flip-flopping Seguin and Nathan Horton on the top two lines over the last four periods, Claude Julien put Seguin back with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Nathan Horton is back with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice, so he should be in net for the Bruins’ last home game until Feb. 28.

The lines were the following in the morning skate:

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin
Chris Bourque – Chris Kelly – Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Following the morning skate, Seguin said that nothing in particular in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Sabres prompted his maintenance day and that he is “all good” physically.

As for the lines being reverted to what they were for the season’s first nine games, Julien said that the experiment of switching the right wings on the top two lines — something he did for the third period last week against the Canadiens to kick-start Seguin and the offense in general — is something he plans to keep in his repertoire going forward.

The Krejci line scored goals in its first two shifts in the third period against the Habs, and though Julien took a risk by breaking up a line that was flourishing with Horton, the power forward continued his strong season with a sensational performance against the Sabres while skating with Bergeron and Marchand.

“Interchangeable,” Julien said of Horton and Seguin. “I said it before — even after they came out and did a great job in Montreal, I said, ‘Listen, this could be temporary, and it could be for a while. It depends.’ There are some players there that are very interchangeable and it gives us some different options.”

Obviously, Horton and Seguin differ greatly as players. They’re both immensely skilled player (both top-three picks in their respective draft years), but Horton is a far more physical player, while Seguin’s offensive skillset is superior.

It’s those differences that allow Julien to get much different looks with a flick of the switch. Putting Seguin on Krejci’s line makes them faster, and as long as Lucic is his normal self, the line still isn’t soft. It may be more of a liability defensively, but thus far the line was a plus-3 over the last two games. Horton, meanwhile, adds more grit to an already hard-working line with Bergeron and Marchand.

At the end of the day, the B’s are still wiser to keep Seguin with Bergeron and Horton with Krejci. Any defensive shortcomings on Seguin’s end go unnoticed thanks to Bergeron, while the combination of Horton and Lucic gives Krejci’s line a bruising edge that makes them extremely difficult for opposing teams.

Either way, Julien has said that he’ll be quicker to tinker with his lineup this year than in seasons past due to the shortened schedule. It’s still early in the season, but the B’s are fortunate to know they have options that have proven to work.

Barry Pederson on D&C: Bruins ‘need to get their power play going’

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to talk about the team’s hot start to the season.

The Bruins are 8-1-1 and two points behind the Devils for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. However, there is one area of play where the B’s definitely can improve.

“A big concern, of course, I think is the power play,” Pederson said. “These games right now, even though they’re off to the best start in franchise history in 10 games at 8-1-1, their power play is right near the bottom again. They got away with it in the Stanley Cup run, but I don’t think you can do it two years in a row. They need to get their power play going. They’ve outplayed teams I think a lot more than the score shows.”

One of the Bruins’ most aggressive and controversial players is Brad Marchand. He is off to a great start, scoring six goals and recording one assist.

“Brad Marchand is an extraordinarily important part of this hockey team,” Pederson said. “He helps set a lot of the energy. He’s a good specialty team guy, he’s great with his speed, backs off the other team’s defense. As we all know, as Bruins fans, if he was on the other team I don’t think we’d like him quite as much.”

Another key part to the team’s success is Andrew Ference. While the defenseman doesn’t always get the deserved recognition, he clearly is a critical part to the team.

“I think he is one of the most underrated players on this team,” Pederson said. “He’s more gifted offensively than he’s given credit for. He’s not necessarily big in stature, but he’ll stick his nose in there. He and [Adam] McQuaid are a very, very steady tandem out there. I think one through six on team defense the Bruins are as good as anybody. … He’s a guy that’s a good leader.”

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Bruins trying not to get discouraged by power play

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Patrice Bergeron has one of the Bruins' four power play goals this season. (AP)

The power play has been so much of a challenge for the Bruins this season that it wasn’t much of a surprise to see them struggle to put the puck in the net when working on the man advantage in Monday’s practice.

Making the power play work has long been an issue for assistant coach Geoff Ward and the Bruins, but for the past three seasons they have been able to win without one.

On the season, the Bruins are 4-for-39 on the man advantage, with one of the goals coming in the form of a Tyler Seguin empty-netter against the Hurricanes. They are 1-for-18 on the power play over their last five games, but those ugly numbers have been accompanied by a pretty record. With the 4-for-39 mark comes an Eastern Conference-best 8-1-1 record, and with the 1-for-18 clip comes a 4-1-0 record.

The Bruins have managed to be able to be the best team in the Eastern Conferece (they trail the Devils by two points for the top spot, but they’ve played 10 games to New Jersey’s 12) despite not manufacturing power play goals. Recent history shows that you technically don’t need a great power play in order to win the Stanley Cup – the B’s were a respectable 5-for-27 against the Canucks in 2011, but they were 0-for-21 against the Habs in the first round, 2-for-16 against the Flyers and 3-for-24 against the Lightning. That made for an underwhelming 11.4 power play percentage for the postseason, which ranked 14th among the 16 teams in the playoffs.

Last season, the Kings followed the Bruins’ lead, putting up a 12.8 clip on the power play but winning the Cup and losing just four games all postseason.

Still, while there’s strong evidence that you can win a lot of games without a good power play, there’s no denying any team would be better if it would take advantage of other teams’ infractions. The Bruins finally did that on Sunday to break an 0-for-17 stretch when Patrice Bergeron got to a puck in front that had bounced off the end boards on a shot from Chris Bourque and sent it past Ryan Miller. Not only was the goal the game-winner in the team’s 3-1 win over Buffalo, it provided a bit of relief in a rather stressful area.

Prior to that goal, the B’s were 0-for-4 in the game. The power play actually proved disruptive to a strong 5-on-5 game the B’s had been playing. The second unit, which now features Bourque at the point with Zdeno Chara, with Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley up front, saw to it that the team wouldn’t have its fifth straight game without a power play goal.

“We’ve got to work on it,” Bergeron said Monday. “We’ve got to make sure we get better. If you get discouraged, we’re obviously not going to improve. That’s the whole point, is to do the job and create some momentum and obviously score some goals.”

With Seguin getting Monday off for maintenance, the B’s moved David Krejci up and put Dennis Seidenberg on the point with Dougie Hamilton on the point on the first configuration. That likely won’t stick, but with the way the B’s have struggled on the power play as a whole, perhaps shuffling more personnel could be in the cards. The B’s have found a way to win without clicking on the man advantage, but if they ever could they would be even scarier.

Bruins-Lightning rescheduled for April 25

Monday, February 11th, 2013

The NHL announced Monday that the Bruins-Lightning game that was postponed this weekend has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 25 at TD Garden.

The game, which was scheduled to be played at the Garden on Saturday, was delayed from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. before being postponed due to weather. The makeup game will be played at 7:30 and will now be the B’s last home game of the regular season. The B’s will wrap up their schedule on the road against the Capitals on April 27.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Tyler Seguin given maintenance day

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Tyler Seguin was absent from Monday’s practice at TD Garden, with Claude Julien saying the right wing was given the day off for maintenance.

Seguin wasn’t the only absence, as Aaron Johnson is with Providence to get some game action, while Lane MacDermid was also sent down on a conditioning loan. Jamie Tardif was sent to Providence the old fashioned way and isn’t expected back for the time being unless injuries occur.

With Seguin out, the lines looked like this:

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Rich Peverley

Chris Bourque – Chris Kelly – Jay Pandolfo

Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Bruins win third straight, beat Sabres in Buffalo

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

The Bruins avenged last month’s loss to the Sabres with a 3-1 win over Buffalo Sunday night at First Niagara Center.

Making his return from a shoulder injury, Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the board and scored his team-leading sixth goal in nine games this season when he took a feed from Andrew Ference and beat Ryan Miller from the top of the left circle. in the second period with Nathan Horton in front. The Sabres would tie it up on a goal from Tyler Ennis following a Bruins power play and a defensive breakdown in the Boston zone. With Dougie Hamilton stuck behind the net, Ennis was wide open in front to take a pass and deke before beating Anton Khudobin.

Though the ineffective power play halted the Bruins’ momentum throughout the first two periods, the B’s finally clicked on the man advantage in the third period to take the lead. Chris Bourque’s wrist shot from the point hit somebody’s leg and went wide off the end boards and bounced in front. With Miller focused on Brad Marchand in front, Patrice Bergeron raced to the puck and sent it in for the his second goal of the season. Milan Lucic added an empty-netter with 48.6 seconds remaining.

With the win, the B’s improved to 8-1-1 on the season with 17 points, their best start through 10 games in history. Their point total puts them two behind the Devils Devils, who beat the Penguins Sunday night to give them 19 through 12 games. Khudobin, who made 24 saves on 25 shots, improved to 2-0-0 on the season.

The Bruins will return to the Garden to face the Rangers on Tuesday night.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- With the shuffling of the top six forwards, it was easy to focus more on how the Milan-Lucic-David Krejci-Tyler Seguin line would fare, but Nathan Horton proved that he’s going to have an impact no matter where he’s playing. The line of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Horton was absolutely buzzing in the first period. One chance for the line came midway through the period Horton was denied on a shot from the high slot before racing to the front of the net to be his usual disruptive self. The final minute of the period also saw the trio pepper Ryan Miller with the Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid pairing contributing as well.

- There was nowhere to go but up, but the B’s had a better defensive showing than they did when the teams last met on Jan. 31. Zdeno Chara had his worst game of the season in that 7-4 loss, but was his usual self Sunday, even getting a shorthanded breakaway that came as the result of a 2-on-1 with Chris Kelly. Miller stopped him on a stickside wrist shot, but Chara wasn’t the only Bruin denied by Miller Sunday night.

- Credit Lucic for forcing pressure on Mike Weber to send the puck out in the Sabres’ zone in the third period, resulting in they delay of game penalty that yielded Bergeron’s goal. The Krejci line didn’t look as impressive as the Bergeron line Sunday night, but that play helped give the B’s the lead in a game that shouldn’t have been as close as it was.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Miller was even better than usual and was the difference between the close game it was and the blowout it could have been. The veteran netminder robbed the Bruins on a number of occasions, perhaps most notably with a glove save on Marchand in front after the Bruins’ forward intercepted a pass from Thomas Vanek. He also robbed Bergeron late in the third period with an acrobatic kick save.

- The B’s went 0-for-3 on the power play in the second period (including an unsucessful 5-on-3), thus eating time off what was otherwise a strong period for the B’s offensively. The Sabres’ lone goal came with the Bruins’ power play unit still on the ice.

- Not necessarily something that went right or wrong, but Shawn Thornton and John Scott can get along after all. The two didn’t have a run-in when first on the ice together early in the first, and when there was a scrum in front of the Bruins’ net following a shot from Scott, Thornton held Scott back as the situation was diffused amicably. The only thing to come from that first-period scrum was a bit of shoving between Daniel Paille and Patrick Kaleta, but there wasn’t a fight until Gregory Campbell and Kaleta dropped the gloves later in the period.

- Speaking of that fight, Campbell didn’t exactly win, but he did lose decidedly. Campbell challenged Kaleta after the Buffalo forward finished his hit a bit late on Dennis Seidenberg in the neutral zone. That led to a fight that saw many punches landed on both sides, but the Sabres got the better of it, both because Kaleta landed more and because Campbell was assessed an instigator penalty to put Buffalo on the man advantage.